Darren Lynn Bousman is a force to be reckoned with as a horror director who has managed to amass a huge fanbase from both the film world and that of the immersive theater community. Whether pushing the envelope with The Experiences, a series of immersive ARG’s (alternate reality games) centered around a mysterious cult, or tackling the horror genre with his own artistic flair, you can always expect something new and unique from the mind of Bousman.
For ST. AGATHA, I had the opportunity to speak with the man himself about his latest film where we discussed everything from reuning with his Tension family to the religious thematics seen throughout his films.
Nightmarish Conjurings: As always it’s great to speak with you, Darren! To start things off, for those who may not be familiar with ST. AGATHA, can you tell them a little bit about it and what initially drew you to the film?
Darren Lynn Bousman: This is going to be a big spoiler so I apologize in advance…
Making this film gave me the chance to work with my Tension family which included Sabrina [Kern], Myles [Cranford), Bobby [King] and Clint Sears, so I got to work with a lot of the Tension people who I love and adore.
Also, the film had a very subtle twist which I really liked which I’m sure a lot of people might miss on the first viewing of the movie. Again, warning to your readers, stop reading this question [if you don’t want anything spoiled]. The film sets up this elaborate, weird, nefarious convent, with these overzealous religious women, but it’s not really what it is at all. It’s a con – the whole thing is a con. What was interesting to me was taking the Mary character, who is a young con-woman, and then putting her in a convent, pardon the pun, with a bunch of other con-women and then revealing it’s not really a convent at all. It’s just a bunch of people trying to con women out of having their children which I thought could be an interesting thing.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Historically, unwed mothers have been easy targets for people to look down upon, whether in the 50s or today in 2019.
DLB: That was 100% it cause if you look at what’s happening now, and when we made the movie 2 years ago, it was a huge thing with Planned Parenthood and all these Senators and politicians trying to tell people what they could or could not do with their bodies, which was kind of what was happening back in the 50s. It was a social taboo to have a child out of wedlock, so I thought it would be a cool look [to tie in] what is happening right now.
Nightmarish Conjurings: ST. AGATHA isn’t your first film to touch upon religion in some fashion. What is it about religion, whether culturally, historically, or thematically, that is inspiring to you?
DLB: I’m fascinated with religion and have always been. From The Devil’s Carnival to Abattoir to even 11-11-11 I love figuring out my own belief system and my own thoughts on what people believe in and what their morals are because I’m constantly struggling with it myself. I think it’s just easy for me to get behind movies that have that as a thematic thing. I find myself, the older I get, constantly changing so who I was 10 years ago is not who I am today.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Having covered a lot of your projects, whether through reviewing films or participating in The Experiences, I have noticed that you use a lot of the same actors, which I think is really wonderful. What was it like bringing Sabrina over from her role as Addison in The Tension Experience to that of the leading lady in ST. AGATHA?
DLB: The thing about Sabrina, which she amazes me as a person, is she is one of the coolest, nicest people that I’ve ever worked with, she’s just kind of a prodigy. I met her off Backstage, that website for actors, when she answered a blind ad for The Tension Experience. It wasn’t until I actually sat down with her for coffee that she knew who I was, and I immediately fell in love with her energy and enthusiasm. She’s swift and even though English is her second language, she was able to literally, in her first film ever, be thrown into the middle of Hell and she did it so well. She was able to hold her own against Carolyn Hennesy who is such an iconic villain, I just loved it. I felt the same way about Carolyn Hennesy as I did when I first sat down with Tobin Bell for Jigsaw. She’s [Hennesy] just this crazy, energetic, charismatic, insane person. Casting is huge for me, I want to work with people that I like and enjoy spending time with. For me, this was the smallest film I’ve ever done and it was the most challenging because there was no money or time. I had to work with people that I knew wouldn’t cause me issues and people that were passionate and wanted to be there. Sabrina was such a reason why Tension was important and I just wanted to carry on that feeling in the film.
Nightmarish Conjurings: One thing that has stayed with me since watching the film has been the score which I fell in love with. Can you tell us a little bit about how that came together?
DLB: Mark Sayfritz, who is based in London, did the music for this film and Abattoir. To me, music has to be a character and I needed it to be a character in this movie. I basically gave him three albums that inspired me – Goblin’s Suspiria, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Omen, and that’s exactly what he gave me back. When you go back and listen to all three of those things you’ll notice that he incorporates the lullaby style that Rosemary’s Baby had, that Satanic style that Goblin did in Suspiria, and he’s got that weird chanting stuff from The Omen. In this film, some of the music is just so haunting.
Nightmarish Conjurings: You are someone that never seems to rest so I’m sure you are working on a million projects. Is there anything coming up that we should be keeping our eyes out for?
DLB: I just finished a movie called THE DEATH OF ME which I shot in Bangkok with Maggie Q, Luke Hemsworth, and Alex Essoe. It’s a really cool thriller and I’m in post with it right now. I’m also continuing on in the immersive theater world, so I’m splitting my time 50/50 between immersive theater and movies.
ST. AGATHA is now in theaters and available On Demand and Digital HD.